Director of the Japanese Language Program
On Leave Fall 2017- Spring 2018
Professor Wesley Jacobsen was born in Tokyo and raised largely in Japan, returning to the U.S. in his later high school years. After graduating from Wheaton College (Illinois) with undergraduate degrees in Mathematics and Religious Studies, he pursued a Ph.D. in Linguistics at the University of Chicago (1981). During his graduate years, his academic interests turned to Japan and the study of the Japanese linguistics. Following graduate school, he taught Japanese language and linguistics for 12 years at the University of Minnesota before joining the faculty at Harvard, where he serves as Director of the Japanese Language Program. He has spent research leaves in Japan at the National Language Research Institute in Tokyo, Kobe University, Dokkyo University, International Christian University, and Kyoto University researching concepts of time, reality, and participant structure (transitivity) and their interaction in Japanese grammar and on the development of effective teaching strategies for such concepts. His publications include The Transitive Structure of Events in Japanese (Kurioso, 1992), On Japanese and How to Teach It (Japan Times, 1992, co-editor), and articles in a variety of journals and books on tense, aspect, conditionals, negation, and transitivity in Japanese as well as on the mutual contributions of linguistics and language teaching. He served as advisory editor to Kodansha's Basic English-Japanese Dictionary (1999). Jacobsen teaches courses in Japanese linguistics as well as a course in reading scholarly Japanese for students of Chinese and Korean studies.